Remember when you were on the fence about buying that subscription to Fight Pass and eventually just settled on “Nah” ... well guess what Mr. Penny Pincher, you just lost the chance to choppily stream another international mixed martial arts (MMA) fight card!
This weekend's slam-bang line up will bring the heavyweight pairing between Fabricio Werdum and Alexander Volkov, because nothing says “UFC London” like a five-round main event between a Brazilian and a Russian.
In the UFC Fight Night 127 co-headliner, part of the March 17 combat sports event inside O2 Arena in London, England, Jimi Manuwa will rematch Jan Blachowicz because so many fans were outraged by “Poster Boy’s” unanimous decision nod when they first went to war in early 2015.
Just kidding. Nobody cares.
Rounding out the four-fight main card, which I will snarkily break down below, Tom Duquesnoy collides with Terrion Ware in bantamweight action, while Leon Edwards tries to improve his 170-pound position at the expense of veteran welterweight Peter Sobotta.
Before we get into those contests, let’s first (begrudgingly) look at the UFC Fight Night 127 “Prelims” card, split up into easily digestible chunks here and here, courtesy of the lucid and affable Patty Stumberg. Odds and betting lines for UFC London can be analyzed here.
As for the main card, I’ll say a bunch of things about that below:
265 lbs.: Fabricio “Vai Cavalo” Werdum (23-7-1) vs. Alexander “Drago” Volkov (29-6)
Nostradumbass predicts: In that UFC London preview I posted last night, the one you didn’t read and don’t care about, rising UFC heavyweight contender Alexander Volkov talked about how young he is and why he represents the next generation of MMA fighters.
“Drago” turns 30 this fall.
But he’s still 11 years younger than opponent Fabricio Werdum and 12 years younger than Roy Nelson, the last fighter he beat inside the Octagon, so I guess by those standards Volkov is practically in diapers.
I’m not sure what the Russian plans to bring into the Octagon tomorrow afternoon, but I guarantee you Werdum has already seen it (and beaten it). Volkov does not punch harder than Mark Hunt, cannot wrestle as well as Cain Velasquez, and will not have better jiu-jitsu than Antonio Rodrigo Nogueira.
Werdum, a former heavyweight champion, finished them all.
In addition to his big-game experience, the Brazilian is the best grappler competing in the heavyweight division and has surprisingly effective Muay Thai. He also came out victorious in the two fights where he was forced to compete for all five rounds.
What does Volkov bring to the table? Well, he’s tall and has pretty decent hands.
I know Father Time eventually catches up to everyone, but until I see Werdum in any kind of trouble, I have to assume he’s the same top-five contender he’s been for the past several years. That’s probably why he’s been sawing through the JV squad in his past two fights and I see no reason why that streak won’t continue in tomorrow’s headliner.
Final prediction: Werdum def. Volkov by unanimous decision
205 lbs.: Jimi “Poster Boy” Manuwa (17-3) vs. Jan Blachowicz (21-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: Is Jimi Manuwa still a thing in the UK? It’s really kind of amazing how one fighter can perform flawlessly throughout his combat sports career, only to go down in a flaming ball of failure on the cusp of a title shot.
Knockout losses to Alexander Gustafsson and Anthony Johnson are forgivable, but getting smoked by Volkan Oezdemir was proof that “Poster Boy” is not the title contender he so desperately wants to be. Look no further than this fight, which to me, says the promotion has no idea what to do with him but needs to keep him busy.
Was his decision win over Jan Blachowicz so controversial that it needed to be repeated? The Pole is ranked No. 11 at 205 pounds and stands at just 4-4 inside the Octagon, having gone to the judges’ scorecards seven times over the last five years. There is nothing appealing about this fight whatsoever and it has little impact on the light heavyweight title picture, which is probably why it’s on Fight Pass in the middle of the afternoon.
Manuwa is the most prolific finisher in the division, having secured 16 stoppages in 17 wins — 15 of them by knockout. Nobody doubts his punching power, but let’s also recognize that his one decision belongs to Blachowicz. The KSW import is as tough and rugged as they come and has yet to be knocked out in nearly 30 professional fights (his one TKO = retirement).
He’s also lost a couple of lackluster decisions to the middle of the pack, including Corey Anderson and Patrick Cummins. Assuming Manuwa — now 38 — hasn’t completely lost his chin, there’s no reason to think this fight won’t end the same way the first one did. And I’d be willing to bet that a year from now, no one will remember this one either.
Final prediction: Manuwa def. Blachowicz by unanimous decision
135 lbs.: Tom “Fire Kid” Duquesnoy (15-2, 1 NC) vs. Terrion “Flash” Ware (17-7)
Nostradumbass predicts: After lighting up the British circuit — and planishing Patrick Williams in his UFC debut — Tom Duquesnoy was expected to be the next big thing at 135 pounds. Then he ran into a bantamweight freight train named Cody Stamman, who took “Fire Kid” down four times en route to last October’s split-decision win.
I know the general consensus among UFC fanboys is that every time you lose you’re “exposed,” but there are a couple of things to consider here. Not only is Duquesnoy just 24 years old, Stamman is as “Wonderful” as advertised, so it’s not like he went belly up against a tomato can.
That’s why this fight has the potential for fireworks. Like Duquesnoy, Terrion Ware loves to stand and bang and happens to do it well, though he struggled against the funky hands of “Sugar” Sean O’Malley last December. That followed a loss to the aforementioned Stamman, so you can imagine that being down 0-2 would motivate “Flash” to make something happen tomorrow in London.
Duquesnoy gives up a few inches in height and reach, but his overall striking attack is both cleaner and more effective. Coupled with his transition to Jackson-Wink MMA in Albuquerque, New Mexico, the improvements he continues to make are likely to outpace those enjoyed by the 31-year-old Ware. The end result is expected to be a “Flash” knockout for the rebounding “Fire Kid.”
Final prediction: Duquesnoy def. Ware by technical knockout
170 lbs.: Leon “Rocky” Edwards (14-3) vs. Peter Sobotta (17-5-1)
Nostradumbass predicts: Peter Sobotta is one of those fighters the promotion likes to keep on ice between international fight cards, which is why the welterweight veteran has yet to compete in the United States despite eight fights for the promotion. Hey, it’s not easy getting fighters on those Germany cards.
That’s not to suggest Sobotta hasn’t earned his keep. He may have floundered in his first Octagon run, but his 2014 return produced a 4-1 record with two finishes, including last year’s destruction of Ben Saunders in Stockholm. His striking has come a long way and his ground game has always been legit, making him a compete fighter who is dangerous wherever the contest goes.
Leon Edwards got a little feisty at the media day staredowns earlier this week, putting his fist in Sobotta’s face and posturing like he’s some sort of world beater who can roll into the O2 Arena without a care in the world because tomorrow’s bout is a “gimme.”
“Rocky” is no doubt making noise in the 170-pound division, capturing four straight wins after getting blanketed by Kamaru Usman in late 2015. It’s hard to knock a win streak, but it’s worth pointing out that none of his victims are ranked in the top 15. He also gives up a height and reach advantage to Sobotta and this is not the same hapless striker who plodded though stand-up wars back in 2009.
Edwards is fighting in front of his hometown fans and will no doubt be looking to put on a show. While he’s busy trying to pick his spots and land something flashy, Sobotta is going to blue-collar him for three rounds and steal the decision.
Final prediction: Sobotta def. Edwards by split-decision
There you have it.
MMAmania.com will deliver LIVE round-by-round, blow-by-blow coverage of the entire UFC Fight Night 127 fight card on fight day (click here), starting with the Fight Pass “Prelims” matches online, which are scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET, followed by the main card start time of 5 p.m. ET, also on Fight Pass.
To see the entire UFC London fight card and line up click here.